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National Radio Midday Report

Police Shortages – US Elections – People’s Bank – Fiji Situation – Solomons Peace Agreement – Peace Talks – Secret Witnesses – 2001 Census – Iraqi Flights – Gulf War Book – Buller Plague

- POLICE SHORTAGES: The Police Association says an exodus of ex police officers to the newly formed Highway Patrol has seen a shortage of experienced police officers in many areas. The president of the association says its vital recruitment numbers are kept up to replace those going to the Highway Patrol.

- US ELECTIONS: The US Presidential election is building to climax ahead of the vote in two days. Republican candidate George W. Bush has been reassuring voters about pensions and healthcare in Florida. Polls have not shown significant movement following the revelation about Mr Bush’s drink driving conviction. Al Gore has been in Pennsylvania, flattering audiences. President Bill Clinton has been in on the campaigning for the vice president.

- PEOPLE’S BANK: Community banks are concerned the proposed Government funded People’s Bank will have an unfair advantage in the market when competing for customers. Cabinet approval of the scheme now looks likely after talks between Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton.

- FIJI SITUATION: In Fiji there is uncertainty over when the next court appearance of May coup leader George Speight will be. The hunt goes on for soldiers on the run in Suva, and shops and schools are still closed.

- SOLOMONS PEACE AGREEMENT: Former Solomon Islands militants are handing in their weapons in accordance with the peace agreement made last month.

- PEACE TALKS: US President Bill Clinton is leading a new initiative to end the conflict in the Middle East. Palestinian President Yasser Ararfat will head to Washington to have talks with president later this week. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barac is expected to arrive three days later for separate talks.

- SECRET WITNESSES: Some lawyers want the use of prison inmates as secret witnesses reviewed and possibly banned, following a secret witness, who testified in the Scott Watson double murder case, admitting he lied in court during the case.

- 2001 CENSUS: New Zealanders will not have to answer questions on their smoking habits or their fertility in the next census, but they will have the option of filling out a Maori/English version. Statistics New Zealand have just released the forms for the 2001 census, which have also been rewritten to use less bureaucratic language.

- IRAQI FLIGHTS: Iraq has launched domestic passenger flights for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War. It sent two planes through the no fly zone enforced by the United States and Britain.

- GULF WAR BOOK: A legal battle between a former SAS soldier and the British Government is entering its final stages in the High Court in Auckland. The British Government is trying to stop the former soldier from publishing a book about his experiences during the Gulf War.

- BULLER PLAGUE: The Buller District is being overrun by its worst plague of rats and mice in 30 years.

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